Accidents to passengers other than those caused by collisions or derailments of trains are very largely due to causes which it is fair to class either as unavoidable or as due mainly to the fault or carelessness of the victim himself.
Collisions, on the other hand, are preventable, and derailments nearly so, and the records of deaths and injuries in this class in successive years are therefore justly taken as an index to the efficiency with which the railways are managed.
On the British railways the men who run the trains are safeguarded very efficiently, and the collisions and derailments which are serious enough to do injury to the trainmen or the enginemen are really rare.
The roadway, tracks and rolling stock are so well maintained that those causes which lead to the worst derailments have been eliminated almost completely, and the record of serious collisions has been reduced nearly to zero by the universal use of the block system and by systematic precautions at junctions.
Apart from collisions and derailments, a large proportion of all accidents is found to be due primarily to want of care on the part of the victims. Accidents to workmen in marshalling, shunting, distributing and running trains, engines and cars, may be taken as the most important class, after train accidents, because this work is necessary and important and yet involves considerable hazard.